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Karim Welaya

  • Medical School: University of Alexandria, School of Medicine. Egypt
  • Residency: Saint Agnes Healthcare, Baltimore, MD

Why Did You Choose Your Field

During my final year of medical school, I had the opportunity to do a rotation in the Department of Clinical Oncology. I found that this is a great field and the pace of treatment development was booming. The special relationship that you build with patient to the point you become the only provider that they trust and that special smile that they have on their face when you tell them the good news, for me this is what medicine is all about.

Program Uniqueness

What I really liked about the program is the friendly environment. This is something that I sensed as early as on my interview day. We are like a big family here whether it is faculty, fellows, nurses and administrators. The other thing that I really liked about the program is that the way the program is structured, where you have an extensive clinic exposure during your first year and then you can determine what you really want to focus on during your second and third year depending on your future goals.

Program Recommendation

I would highly recommend the program to candidates who are considering Hematology and Oncology as a specialty. Whether you want to work in academics, a community based hospital or even a private practice, this program will prepare you very well to become a competent hematologist oncologist.

Learned Skills

I have to admit, as a first year fellow, I never imagined that I would have learned that much in less than a year. The learning curve is extremity steep however the great support that we get, as first years fellow, from the faculty helps us how to attain all the information and convert data in the articles to the real clinical practice.

Living In Rochester

For me, I am married and I have 2 children and so Rochester is a perfect match. There are tons of activities for the family especially during the summer time with great parks and outings. It is defiantly much cheaper than other cities in the northeast and I am amazed how everything is close by, something that I had suffered from when I use to live in Maryland during my residency where my commute to work was almost 30 minutes. I had some personal fears form the winter with the all the “horror stories” I heard before moving here but our first winter here was not bad at all, you just get used to it.

Research Interests

Check point inhibitors are game changers in cancer treatment. Over the past years, these drugs have changed outcomes in both solid and hematological malignancies and so I am interested on seeing how patients in the “real world” really do with these drugs. Although clinic trials showed acceptable tolerability and outcomes for these agents, it is known that patients participating in clinic trials are different than the patients we see in our daily clinics and so we would except that the toxicity profile as well as outcomes would be different in our patients.

Research Projects

Although I have been here only for less than one year, I already participated in a project looking at immune check point inhibitors in the elderly population and whether obtaining a comprehensive geriatric assessment prior to initiating therapy would affect outcome. We are currently writing the manuscript for publication. I am also working on starting a retrospective chart analysis to look at patients with advanced melanoma who are receiving PD-1 inhibitors and I am optimistic that we can finalize this work by next year.

Career Goals

My interests are more clinical based and so I am planning to work in a community based setting.

How Has This Program Prepared You For Your Future

So far I feel I am on the right track. I have periodic meetings with the program leaders as well as other mentors to go through my learning milestones and my progress. They do a great job in guiding me to keep me on track.